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Use of "after"

Posted by Doug Seaton on August 09, 2003

In Reply to: Use of "after" posted by Shae on August 09, 2003

: : An expression often used by my (Scottish) grandmother was "I'll (or You'll, or He'll, etc) be after" - e.g. "I'll be after a trip to the shops", which I can remember my dad explaining as Scottish-english having inherited some Gaelic roots. As I recall, he thought it should be interpreted as something like: "I'll [eventually] be [in the state corresponding to] after [having had] a trip to the shops".
: : But this doesn't work for the expression used a few minutes ago by my (English) daughter: "I'm after a lift to town".
: : What is the real basis, and just how should such expressions be parsed?

: 'After' as used in both examples means 'seeking, looking for, wanting.' Your daughter wanted a lift to town. However, your grandmother was *demanding* a trip to the shops. The 'be' before 'after' makes a big difference. 'I'll be after' means 'I expect to be provided with . . .' whatever.
Thanks, Shae. But what they *meant* wasn't really what I was after (said he, also using the expression). I'm curious about how such an expression came into being, whether my dad's theory has any basis in the historical development of the language, whether this usage has changed the word from its original time-related sense, and so on.